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Dalit children burnt alive: Whither is humanity?

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By Sapan Kapoor

Looking at the picture of two-year-old Vaibhav fondling his nine-month-old sister Divya one cannot help but feel ashamed of being a human. For humanity failed again on Tuesday in Haryana’s Sun Perh village near Ballabgarh when these two angels were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community, a ghastly attack that also critically injured their parents.

A police spokesman said, “Some criminals burnt a Jatav family of village Sun Perh, police station Sadar Ballabhgarh of Faridabad district when they were sleeping inside their house. Four members including Jitender, his wife Rekha and two small children namely Vaibhav (son) aged 2 years and Divya (daughter) aged 9 months were inside the room. Subsequently, the fire spread inside the room and both the children expired. Jitender and his wife Rekha also sustained burn injuries.”

Verily, as I write this piece my heart bleeds and hands quiver. I wonder how easy it is for us to write or say, “The Dalit children were burnt alive.” Burnt alive? Little children? How excruciatingly painful it must have been for them. Remember the time when you had accidentally singed your fingers while cooking your meal? It was painful, right? But how about burning children alive or shooting them dead at point-blank range?

These are dangerous times when scores of young children are butchered in a school in Pakistan, when the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi fleeing violence in Syria is washed ashore on a Turkish beach, when a 50-year-old man is beaten to a sodden pulp for merely eating beef and when two little angels are burnt alive for being Dalits in a country that boasts of being the world’s largest democracy.

There seems to be something seriously wrong with the world which has become so unsafe for children and the most vulnerable sections of the society. People are playing politics over the dead bodies of innocent human beings, as human greed for power and wealth knows no bounds. Everything seems to be fair in politics and our quest for power; the humans pull out all the stops to gratify their insatiable desire to dominate and subjugate others. But such savagery and inhumanity is extremely dangerous.

For this will only lead us to the abyss of dark ages, extrication from which will be impossible. In that chasm there’s darkness, there are the burning fires of hell, there’s the burning and scorching of the flesh; there’s foul smell. Where are we heading? Is the end of the world nigh?

It is a matter of great regret that even in the 21st century we have not been able to find a lasting solution to our social issues.

Until and unless we acknowledge the universal truth that all men and women are born equal and that they must not be discriminated against in the name of caste, creed, sex, colour or religion, we will not succeed in the establishing a just society; social justice is essential for peace and progress.

We ought to look within. In the 21st century, the caste system that negates the idea of an egalitarian India should have no place. How can a person assume superiority over others just because he or she happens to be born into a particular caste? How can a person be destined to be a slave of others just because of his colour or caste? This is the root cause of the problem in India, for this is where it all begins.

Besides, we Indians do not even realize and acknowledge how racist we are.

Such incidents remind me of India’s horrible past when Dalits were barred from entering temples. Unfortunately, we seem to be still living in the past, for a 90-year-old Dalit man, Chimma, died after he was brutally attacked with an axe and set on fire for trying to enter a temple at Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month.

An eyewitness said the accused Sanjay Tiwari had asked Chimma and several others not to enter the temple but they refused, leading to the attack.

Alas, whenever such incidents take place the first instinct of our politicians is to take a political mileage out of a human tragedy, for that’s what they are supposed to do. Politics (duh). So be it Dadri or Sun Perh village, our great leaders at once rush to meet the victim families, assuring them of compensation, justice and above all a CBI inquiry.

The same thing is repeated time and again and nothing comes out this futile exercise. We ought to realize that we are in deep water; India’s soul is at stake. What we need is sincere soul searching, for there is something seriously wrong with a society that allows its children to meet such a terrible fate.

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Obesity Among Children at An All Time High Amid Lockdown

Lockdowns implemented has impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children causing obesity, research concludes

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Obesity
Obesity among kids is on a rise amid lockdown. Pixabay

Lockdowns implemented across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity, warn researchers. “The tragic Covid-19 pandemic has collateral effects extending beyond direct viral infection,” said study co-author Myles Faith from the University at Buffalo in the US.

“Children and teens struggling with obesity are placed in an unfortunate position of isolation that appears to create an unfavourable environment for maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours,” Faith added. Children and adolescents typically gain more weight during summer vacation than during the school year, which led the researchers to wonder if being homebound would have a similar effect on the kids’ lifestyle behaviours.

For the findings, published in the journal Obesity, the researchers surveyed 41 children and teens with obesity under confinement throughout March and April in Verona, Italy. Lifestyle information regarding diet, activity and sleep was collected three weeks into Italy’s mandatory national lockdown and compared to data on the children gathered in 2019.

Questions focused on physical activity, screen time, sleep, eating habits, and the consumption of red meat, pasta, snacks, fruits and vegetables. The results confirmed the negative change in behaviour, indicating that children with obesity fare worse on weight control lifestyle programs while at home compared to when they are engaged in their school curriculum.

Obesity
Children and teens struggling with obesity amid lockdown. Pixabay

Compared to behaviours recorded a year prior, the children ate an additional meal per day; slept an extra half hour per day; added nearly five hours per day in front of the phone, computer and television screens; and dramatically increased their consumption of red meat, sugary drinks and junk foods. Physical activity, on the other hand, decreased by more than two hours per week, and the number of vegetables consumed remained unchanged, the study said. “Recognising the adverse collateral effects of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is critical in avoiding the depreciation of hard-fought weight control efforts among youths afflicted with excess weight,” Faith said.

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“Depending on the duration of the lockdown, the excess weight gained may not be easily reversible and might contribute to obesity during adulthood if healthier behaviours are not re-established,” Faith added. “This is because childhood and adolescent obesity tend to track over time and predict weight status as adults,” the study author wrote. (IANS)

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Lifestyle Intervention Reduces Bad Cholesterol Concentration in Children

Lifestyle changes can cut cholesterol level in primary scool children

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cholesterol
Researchers suggest taht family-based physical activity and dietary intervention may cut the plasma LDL cholesterol concentration of kids. Pixabay

An individualised and family-based physical activity and dietary intervention may reduce the plasma LDL cholesterol concentration of primary school children, say researchers.

The study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, explored the effects of an individualised and family-based physical activity and dietary intervention on the plasma lipids of more than 500 Finnish children aged between 6 and 8 years at baseline.

The researchers were also interested in which components of the lifestyle intervention had the greatest impact of plasma lipids.

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“The LDL cholesterol concentration of kids from families who participated in the lifestyle intervention was slightly reduced during the two-year follow-up, whereas no similar change was observed in children in the control group,” said study researcher Aino-Maija Eloranta from the University of Eastern Finland.

“The lifestyle intervention did not have an impact on other plasma lipids,” Eloranta added.

During the two-year follow-up, families participated in six individualised dietary and physical activity counselling sessions. The sessions were individually tailored to each family and they focused on improving the quality of the family’s diet, increasing physical activity and reducing screen time.

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Increased physical activity explained some of the decreases in the LDL cholesterol concentration. Pixabay

In addition, children were encouraged to participate in weekly after-school exercise clubs. Children’s plasma lipids were analysed at the beginning and at the end of the study.

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The study showed that increasing the consumption of high-fat vegetable oil-based spreads and decreasing the consumption of butter-based spreads played the most important role in decreasing the LDL cholesterol concentration.

Replacing high-fat milk with low-fat milk, and doing more physical activity, also explained some of the decreases in the LDL cholesterol concentration.

Having an elevated LDL cholesterol concentration in childhood may predict artery wall thickening in adulthood, the researchers said. The results of the findings thus suggest that a family-based dietary and physical activity intervention may prevent the development of atherosclerosis in adulthood. (IANS)

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Showing Support to The Chanderi weavers Amid Lockdown

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products, showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful

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Chanderi weavers
Lending support to Chanderi weavers in these times becomes immensely important. IANS

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products and sustain their craft during these difficult times. Showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful. One needs understand that the lockdown has had a severe impact on artisans as it has severely affected their sales and production.

“With artisans and weavers having been hit badly because of the lockdown, Weaverstory a specialised online marketplace, has decided to give reasonable prices, so that customers can buy different products from across India and abroad too. This is helping the weavers sell their products to sustain during these difficult times. Every artisan or weaver is given a separate space to exhibit their products and this is the first time they are trying something like this,” said Nishant Malhotra co-founder of Weaverstory.

WeaverStory launched an “Authentic Chanderi Collection” which helps artisans to become self-reliant. Chanderi, from central India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton.

weavers
India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton. Pixabay

“Most of them sustain themselves only by selling their products and what is really important is to sell their products on time. Hence, this is the only way to sell whatever they have produced in the past two months. We ensure that the money goes to the artisan’s account within three working days and provide financial support to them during the lockdown,” Malhotra added.

The chanderi saree is a handwoven variety from the traditional weavers of Madhya Pradesh. Woven predominantly in cotton and silk yarn, the material has a subtle sheer surface. The assortment has in store the variety of sarees, dupattas, suits in vibrant colours, royal blues, and red and mustards.

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There have been changes in the methodologies, equipment and even the compositions of yarns over the years, but there is a heritage attached with the skill associated with high quality weaving and products. The weavers from this area a have even received appreciation and royal patronage. WeaverStory has been focussing predominantly on the weaves, reviving designs from museums and traditional forms, and working with weavers themselves. (IANS)